you are the No.$@!!(Jvisitor to this page.
My old friend, Masako, now the representative of Friendship Society between Children of Japan and Arab, has her own each one daughter and son in Japan. As a mother and a former kinder garden teacher, she cried and cried before the TV, during the Gulf War, and then made her mind to go to Iraq to help the survived children. She went to Iraq already fifteen times after the Gulf War, with milks, medicaments and other goods, bought by the donation from many Japanese friends who feel same as her.
I newly propose here a peaceful and warm worldwide oparation, named "milk donation tyhoon", against the ruthless oparatin "desert fox".
If you do agree, send your donation to;
Yuubinhurikae(postal money order),
kouzabangou(number of the account): 00170-1-613360,
kanyuushamei(name of the subscriber): Masako Ito.
Mail address of Masako ITO: 13-12-6, Mure, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, Japan 181-0002
Phone & Fax: from abroad; +422-47-0781 in Japan; 0422-47-0781
Following is the report by Masako Ito.
Translation by Yasuhisa Iwakawa.
Main donator: Kazuhiko Koike.
I have been to Iraq a couple of times every year since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. My main activities are to carry medicines to Iraq which are badly needed there due to the economic embargo and to help bringing up friendship between the Japanese and Iraqi children through the exchange of their drawings and letters.
This time I encountered military attacks by the American and British forces during my fifteenth stay in Iraq. I tell you what was going on.
The previous day of the attacks
December 16 (Wed)
This morning, I heard Mr. Butler, chairman of the UNSCOM, have "ordered all the UNSCOM staff to withdraw from Iraq because the country is not cooperative enough". On the day before yesterday, the Iraqi News reported, "things will get better as the UNSCOM staff finished all the inspection", and I felt "why do they try to trust the UNSCOM despite its frequent betrayals in the past " at that time.
In the afternoon, I heard a French NGO staff were going to leave Baghdad within today due to an order from the ambassador. It was really strange, because I planned to deliver materials I brought from Japan to facilities for physically impaired children together with the NGO staff a few days later. He was staying in Baghdad even during the crisis in November. I contacted many friends who had up-to-date and accurate information. They were Iraqi officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Information, NGO staff, journalists, and Jordanian drivers who travel between Amman and Baghdad every week. All of them said, "It's just that Butler suddenly ordered the withdrawal and that the US has not said anything, so it will be all right". All the Iraqi people, regardless of position and status, were very disappointed because they thought the lifting of the
economic sanctions would be away again, but still they were doing theirbest for living their everyday lives. An Italian NGO staff said, "I think the US Army will use chemical weapons for sure next time, so it will need a preparatory period". Even all the UN staff but the UNSCOM staff, at least 100 persons, continued their daily jobs. Some of them were in charge of the supply of humanitarian relief.
Still, I was very anxious about the behaviour of the UNSCOM, so I proposed TV crew from Japan to leave Iraq before Ramadan, because attacks might come the first or previous day of it.
In the evening, the Iraqi government announced a decision on TV to divide the country into four autonomous regions with governors appointed. The reason was "to enable each region to conduct its daily jobs even if the Iraqi land were divided after a war". The people were soon prepared for a possible war and their preparation could be seen in long queues of cars in front of petrol stations.
At the beginning of the Gulf War, the US Army thoroughly destroyed Iraq's telecommunication and transportation networks, divided the nation, and then spread the propaganda "the Iraqi government has already collapsed". Many Shiite activists came to Basra, a southern city in Iraq, from Iran, because the people in the city lost their religious authority and depended on the highest Shiite priest, who was an Iranian. After the war, they knew that the government worked, and tried to be back to their normal lives, but they could not afford to support the Iranian priests due to the destruction by the war and the economic sanctions. The Iranians, therefore, had no choice but to go underground and rob the citizens in Basra, because they had nowhere to go. This is the reality of 'civil war'. The Shiites in Iraq recognize that what the US says is a lie - 'the protection of Shiites', as it bombed a holy mosque in Karbala, a sacred ground for them, on their important religious day during the Gulf War.
The first attacks
December 17 (Thu)
At 0:15 AM, warning sirens suddenly blew and the hotel staff asked us to come down to the lobby. As I was going to go down, the noises of fighter jets and explosions roared. Through the window, I saw oil facilities in Dora, near the center of Baghdad, was burning. It was approximately 0:30 AM. I could see the downtown Baghdad from my room on the ninth floor. Lights of bullets were shining like fireworks in the sky. Then, came noises of explosions. I had my camera, but it was impossible for me to follow them as they were really unpredictable. Iraq's counterattack bullets flew so slowly that most of the pictures in news reports taken by CNN and the other TV stations were the Iraqi ones. Few of the missiles launched by the US and Britain could be shot.
According to an Iraqi youth, who live in New Bagdhad, the branch manager of my organization, there suddenly came a sound of a flying missile, and a few seconds later followed an explosion, and then warning sirens blew. "All of my family were so scared that they cried and begged my help", he said.
The air attack was unpredictable to anybody, but BBC seems to have known when and where the attack would start, because it was the only media that could shoot the first American attack. The French government and doctors of the World Health Organization (WHO) seem to have been aware of it, too. I requested an interview with them, but they left Baghdad on December 16.
The same kind of attacks were repeated at 2:30 AM, 3:00 AM$@!!(Jand 4:00 AM. The duration would be 10 or 15 minutes each time. During$@!!(Jan attack at around 3:30 AM, I saw flames and then mushroom cloud$@!!(Jappear in the office district.
According to a report by ANN (the Asahi News Network), 45$@!!(Jpeople died in the attacks. Some houses and shops in Al-Karrada and Hai Al-Adel were hit by the missiles. Many innocent citizens, including$@!!(Jchildren, became targets of the attacks without notice and lost their$@!!(Jlives.
The injured were carried to three hospitals in Baghdad. A$@!!(Jthe Al-Yarmuk Hospital alone, the number of deaths increased to 14,$@!!(Jincluding a child, in the morning from 5 during the night. The injured$@!!(Jsuffered from a total burn, having their wounds bleeding. It was too$@!!(Jshocking to see them. Moreover, the economic sanctions made this$@!!(Jsituation worse. Therefore, it is natural that even those who could be$@!!(Jsaved elsewhere cannot survive here. A father of two daughters was worried about them. His house was hit by an attack and he was seriously injured. Nobody could tell his daughters had been dead.
Not only I but also NGO staff of the other countries than Japan are really angry. They unanimously condemn the US, an inhuman military superpower, saying, "this is nothing other than a massacre of innocent people", "the US fabricates a war from nothing !","the US is trying to plunder the right to live thoroughly", and "does the US try to carry out genocide against those suffering from the Gulf War and the economic sanctions ?"
About five foreign NGOs still continue to operate in Iraq. They are from Italy, France, the Middle East, and North America. Each of them has only one or two staff. They are doing whatever they can to cooperate with the Iraqi people, with a very limited amount of money.
All of us NGOs in Iraq issued a statement for protest against the attacks, but the media turned a deaf ear to our appeal.
Damage by the attacks can be seen in the presidential palaces in Baghdad, Basrah, and Tikrit, etc, stations of Iraq's satellite TV, a power station, and a warehouse for the rationing of flour. 2,500 Tons of flour had just arrived at the warehouse according to the agreement of a partial lifting of the sanctions. On satellite TV, there was a one-hour programme produced by the Iraqi crew about the hazards of depleted uranium shells. The research for the programme was conducted very accurately. The TV stasion promised to give me a video film of the programme, but now I am not sure if I can get it. According to Dr. Al-Rifai who live in the famous residential quarter A'adhamiya , the former Iraqi ambassador to Japan, one of his neighbours got a missile on his garden, but fortunately it did not explode. Mrs. Al-Rifai repeatedly said, "it's a miracle. It is really lucky that the bomb did not explode".
Water supply has stopped since the attacks began and TV does not work, either.
We can still listen to the radio, but the news comes very late, so we gather information at the press centre of the Ministry of Information. There we can watch programmes of foreign TV stations, such as CNN. There are Iraqi journalists covering sites which suffer from the damages of the bombing together with the foreign news reporters, and they always try to gather as correct information as possible. NGO staff also get necessary information at the press centre before visiting the sites. Hotel managers and staff put what they obtained in their residence in order for their clients. This has been done in other workplaces and towns.
I myself directly visited the sites after the danger of the attacks went away. In Karada, 2 houses and 4 shops were totally broken into pieces. A bus driver whose bus was also destroyed appealed, "this is what America did !", and "let this tragedy be known to the world". Even those who could survive the attacks have suffer from further hardships, in addition to the difficulties under the sanctions. They cannot afford to rebuild their houses. They have even lost the vitality to be angry. They are simply so upset.
25 Deaths and 73 (? sorry, this number is not accurate) injuries were reported in the morning news. The information from the government is obviously late compared with the one we have gathered.
During the daytime, I heard explosions twice at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM.
I was so surprised when I came back to my hotel room to pick up my films, because I had received a phone call from Japan. It was from the Yomiuri Shimbun. While I was on the phone, I had to take other calls from Japan, all from the media, and to keep talking for two hours.
All of them asked me, "Are Iraqi citizens rushing to shops to buy up goods ?". Why can't they even imagine that the Iraqi people can never afford to do such a thing after having suffered from the economic sanctions which have continued for 9 years. Apparently there are more commodities in the markets than before, simply because nobody can aford to buy them. Please remember, they had no time to borrow money, either, as the attacks came too sudden.
The people have given up hopes, saying, "this situation has been repeated many times, again and again, for 8 years. I prefer to die immediately in a bomb attack rather than slowly and steadily in the sanctions". They also say, "please don't ask questions I can't answer". "War, sanctions, war, sanctions. This cycle has been going on for 8 years".
Schools are closed from today on, so children go to town to make extra money. All of the government offices, private companies, and shops do their business as usual. They cannot afford to take a single day off. This 'business as usual' situation seems to me a small resistance to the attacks.
The second attacks.
Night December 17 (Thu) -
Morning December 18 (Fri)
At 10:00 PM tonight, airplanes in formation suddenly started harsh attacks. One of the presidential palaces lies on the opposite side of this hotel across the Tigris River. As the planes bombed it, the whole of this hotel shook, and my room was hit by bombshell blasts and smoke.
I ran down to the lobby without having had anything. Then, the manager of the hotel was shouting, "down, down". What he meant was an underground shelter, in which there was no heater. We customers were just waiting for the attacks to stop. Probably more than 100 people were there - Jordanians, businessmen from the other Arabic countries, Kurdish football teams, an Iraqi couple who had a wedding ceremony just today, and Iraqi families coming here for Ramadan. This room was protected by thick walls, but still we felt this hotel shake and heard the noises of explosions. Children were just crying. Women were also crying. Everyone had no choice but just to be patient.
I was thinking about how the situation had been like during the Gulf War. Large buildings, such as hospitals, have underground shelters. I remember doctors said, "we evacuated patients to the underground shelter every day. We were all busy to calm them down and had no time to be scared," "As we had to spend many hours ithe shelter having no electric facilities or oxygen inhalers, many patients with advanced disease and newborn babies died there." They had to be there for many weeks.
Also, I was worried about children in the leukemia ward of the hospital I had visited whenever I had come to Iraq. Have they been evacuated underground ? They must be so scared. Can children in a critical condition survive cold nights without electric facilities in the room ? I feel so sad about not being able to help them and so angry with these inhuman attacks.
The second attacks were intermittent from 10:00 PM on December 17 to 2:00 AM on the following date. I saw lights of planes in formation flying from Saudi Arabia. Were they British ? We had heard that Britain had dispatched fighter jets to Iraq. They carried out further harsh bombings between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM.
Insensitive Japanese reporters called me in such an early morning from Japan while I was dozing off. They said, "it must be propaganda by the Iraqi government that houses were bombed". They just want to draw such a comment of mine, "I'm so scared due to harsh attacks". No ! I even had no time to be afraid ! What I feared was only one thing : Iraqi children, especially sick ones, are suffering even more and dying.
The damage of these attacks is cruel. The Saddam Medical College Hospital, the biggest in Iraq with 900 beds, built in the Medical City in Bagdhad, where many medical facilities are concentrated, malfunctioned by a nearby bomb explosion. According to the director and doctors, three fragments of the bomb hit the hospital and the blast let the building jump. All the windows of sickrooms were broken, and electric and water facilities became all out of order. The doctors said 3 patients were dead of the shock. They let all the other patients evacuate to the underground shelter immediately. As there were no facilities for blood transfusion or intravenous drips, or oxygen inhalers, the patients' condition worsened. Many wounded patients were also carried to this hospital.
I visited the hospital while attacks were not carried out. Then, the director defiantly told me, "the Japanese government immediately agreed to these attacks. How do you think about it as a Japanese ? Are such things allowed humanistically ?" The beautiful relief at the entrance to the ruined hospital, made by a prominent Iraqi artist, remained intact.
Not only this director but also the Iraqi people told me, "did we do something wrong to Japan ?" "how come do peace loving Japanese do such a thing against the public opinion around the world ?" They question the responsibility as a Japanese to me.
The Al-Mansur Pediatric Hospital is next to the Saddam Medical College Hospital. I heard that the children in the leukemia ward had been crying all night long because of shocks and noises of the explosions. Everyone had weakened. Some had had high fever. I spent so many hours to have them smile again, saying, "remember me whenever you feel scared of bomb attacks. I'm always thinking about you". There were only oxygen cylinders in the sickrooms of children in a critical condition, nothing else. I was too afraid to confirm if they could survive.
The Ministry of Health had its windows broken and its ceilings falling down. It stands in the Medical City, the same district as the hospitals. These buildings were nearly destroyed even if they were not hit directly.
In another district, Al-ikhah Maternity and Pregnant Hospital was bombed. The College of Languages in the University of Baghdad has malfunctioned by the attacks. The departments of pharmacy and chemistry were damaged, as were the National Museum for History and Nature, and a cotton factory in Kadamiyah. I heard that small factories and houses in the Abu Greibu district were bombed. There is a large customs to handle all medicines coming into Iraq.
All the UN staff, including those in charge of the supply of humanitarian relief, are reported to have evacuated to Jordan due to the attacks being too harsh.
In the daytime today, the Jordanian government suddenly closed borders wih Iraq. It means that Iraqi drivers or taxis cannot pass the borders normally. We foreigners can, but we must catch a Jordanian one who or which enters the Iraqi side. Moreover, if we hire a large taxi called GMC, we need to pay 400 or 500 US dollars for it, while we could hire at only 100 dollars before. In the area where Iraqi taxi companies concentrate, the Iraqi drivers are just sitting down and killing time, because they cannot take passengers at all.
The third attack
Night December 18 (Fri) -
Morning December 19 (Sat)
I received a phone call from the Kyodo News at 8:30 PM. According to them, the US President Bill Clinton said that the third attack had started. However, I could only hear noises of explosions far away.
The attacks seemed to be centred on smaller cities. According to a report, the Qrina Hospital in Basra was bombed. This hospital was absorbed to the local health centre after having been bombed during the Gulf War. It was rebuilt two years after the bombing, but destroyed again... Also, I heard other hospitals, schools, facilities of impaired children were damaged in three cities. Also damaged were the Um Qasir Customs at the Port of Basra, where materials admitted by the partial lifting of the sanctions went through, and petrochemical complexes. Iraq could not produce oil enough to ststain itself due to the sanctions in addition to its petroleum facilities thoroughly destroyed during the Gulf War, and it is still suffering more and more.
We heard a report that, in Tamin, about a dozen university students had been killed when a dormitory had been attacked. Probably the media will say, "the students were involved in the research and development of chemical weapons".
December 19 (Sat)
All the NGOs in Baghdad decided to send relief to the Al Yalmuk Hospital to which wounded people were carried. We showed our protest against the inhuman attacks through our action. CNN crew were covering us, but it did not report anything at all.
Patients were carried to the hospital from everywhere, not only those injured by the first attack but also by later ones. A girl, in the third year of junior high school, suffered at home from complicated fracture in both legs. Bandages covering the legs are filled with blood. "I'm going to die," "I did nothing wrong, but I'm going to be killed by American weapons,", cried she. I desparately talked to her, "don't think about dying. Say thank you to the god as you are still alive, and hold out. " Her parents defiantly told me, "did this girl do something wrong deserving such an act of cruelty ? She was just staying at home." On the next bed was a two-year girl with her thigh seriously wounded. I heard all her brothers were also injured and carried to this hospital. More and more victims were coming from much more areas than we heard from the Ministry of Information.
When I was on a car, I saw a car carrying a very small coffin covered with the Iraqi national flag overtake mine. The driver, an Iraqi friend of mine, said, "that is a coffin of a small child killed during these attacks." I asked him why he could recognize that, and he said, "those covered with the national flag are war victims". As time passed, the number of deaths increased.
When a press conference was held for the statement by First Vice Prime Minister Taha Yasin Ramadan was only after the third attack was carried out at night. Could the Iraqi government afford to make such propaganda as "civilians were victimized" ? The fact of harsh attacks and serious damage by them was far ahead of the statement by the government. From my point of view, people in Japan have been obsessed with the idea "the Iraqi regime does anything and the people can never express what they really think for fear of it" and have judged depending only on untrue reports from the US. This is propaganda. I have experienced and learned various things in Iraq which are unknown outside the country. Did Saddam Hussein do something wrong to the people in Iraq or the other Arabic countries this time ? Who massacred innocent people ? It is the military power of the US and Britain.
When the US President Clinton was asked by news reporters, "why did even hospitals need to be bombed ?", he answered, "because those hospitals had research institutes of (chemical) weapons". I have no words with anger. The damage on the Saddam Medical College Hospital was caused by fragments and bombshell blasts. The real target of the bombs was the old building of Ministry of Defense, opposite to the hospital across the road. The building was thoroughly destroyed during the Gulf War and no reconstruction was in sight at all. I heard only such manual work as to lay bricks had been done there in order to give jobs to workers. How come could Clinton say there were chemical weapons in the hospital which did not become the target of the attack ? It seems to me that the US is allowed to do anything on Iraq if it uses the words 'chemical weapons' and 'biological weapons'.
Does the US think the Iraqi people are not human beings ? There are 22 million people living in Iraq. They are the same humans as us, living their everyday lives. Bombs were dropped and missiles were shot on them without prior notice.
The Iraqi government announced to have shot down great many missiles. But, in reality, there were only a few as long as we had seen, so the announcement was Iraq's propaganda. Still, Iraqi people who heard the news were really proud of the interception, saying, "we hit as many as 200 American missiles". Yes, they said so, despite that they had been war-weary. It is so sad to know that irrational attacks make people very aggressive, no matter how peace-loving they are. Remember that the Iraqi people could share my view, "demilitarization is the best way to defend ourselves", although they insisted, "how come can you ask us to be unarmed in the danger that Israel hasthe strongest military power in the Middle East ?".
As soon as this air attack is over when the fast starts, I will return to Jordan, because I judge it is safer to stay at the hotel than to take a risk to travel a long way of 1,000 km to Jordan during the attack. Still, I can run away from this country as I am a foreigner, but the people, especially children, in Iraq have no choice but to endure this hardship. A housekeeper of the hotel asked me to be in a photo together with her so I can remember her if she died. How painful her preparation is !
In a foreign TV programme, the US President Clinton said, "we respect Islam. We also understand the holiness of the fast, so night is the only time when we attack". Again, I have no words. The fast means not only the time when people do not eat but also the whole period of a month of Ramadan. It is a very special thing for them Muslim people.
It is true that they do not eat or drink anything from dawn till dusk during the fast month. The period is very important for them to recognize that all human beings, rich and poor, are all equal under the God, and to care about those who cannot eat enough due to poverty. Therefore, it is meaningless if they do not continue the fast throughout the whole month. They cannot drink even a drop of water, swallow their spit, smoke, or kiss from before 5:00 AM till around 5:00 PM. This is exactly asceticism. All the people, no matter who they are, do this every day during the period of the fast, and they invite their relatives and friends one another for dinner taken after dusk, which was the original meaning of 'breakfast'. There they encourage each other for completing the fast. During the fast period, even married couples cannot have sex. It is a very holy practice, different from a diet.
Clinton does not understand anything about the fast at all. How can he say such a thing as "we respect Islam"?
The fourth attack
Morning December 20 (Mon)
The attacks continued this morning. The fast started today, but there has been no sign of the attacks to be stopped. Yesterday, Clinton said that the army would not attack Iraq during the daytime of Ramadan, but today he shamelessly changed his attitude. Journalists around the world report as if all the things were true whenever Clinton says 'chemical weapons' or 'biological weapons', no matter how groundless his words are. Why ?
After these four days of attacks, I had been able to judge from lights and noises what they were - cruise missiles or fighter jets, and where they came from - US bases in Saudi Arabia or submarines deployed in the Persian Gulf. We were talking each other, "we have become like military analysts just by having watched the attacks from a hotel room for four days". The Iraqi people judged what had been done during the Gulf War in the same way as we did this time, without having known the names of weapons used. But their judgement seems to be considerably correct from the point of my own experience. They had been obliged to be in the state of war for 42 days.
Today, journalists of many countries were ready to run away talking that the bombs fell near Al-Raseed Hotel where they stay. Houses and the former National Lilbrary building in the Wazeria district were also damaged. When an electric power station was attacked, the building of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, on the opposite side of the power station, also suffered from the bombing. Also, the Al-Bakr Soldier University in New Baghdad was bombed.
Iraq has not been able to afford to repair or improve the infrastructure thoroughly destroyed during the Gulf War due to the economic sanctions, so it has had to cut off electricity regularly. Last summer, some areas could get the supply of electricity only for two hours a day. But still, the US and British forces carried out further attacks on Iraq this time.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is in charge of livelihood protection and the support of lives of widows, mentally or physically impaired people, and the old. It is strange that the Japanese media translate the name of the ministry as 'Labour and Social Affairs'. They seem to be misleading people with an idea 'there is no welfare and are full of problems in Iraq'.
This administration has supported our activities at orphanages and facilities of mentally or physically impaired children. The other day, the ministry organized a conference whose agenda was 'How can We Help the Increasing Number of Streetchildren Who Have Dropped out of School Due to Poverty ?' I participated in it, and it was excellent because all the participants argued very seriously about how to break the deadlock. For example, when a panelist proposed, "let girls prostituting themselves leave school and give them jobs from which they can make money in order to save them", there was full of criticism towards the proposal, "it is out of the question. School must teach them what is right and what is wrong," "Men who are trying to buy the girls must learn their behaviour is inhuman. The girls are not to blame." When the chairperson tried to stop the argument, saying, "it is out of our jurisdiction and not according to today's agenda", the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare raised an objection to him "76 % of the prison inmates were arrested for theft. It is important to care them after the finish of their prison terms, particularly to arouse public opinion for eliminating prejudice towards them." Among the participants were ministers, foreigners like me, school teachers, fieldworkers, high Muslim priests, and university professors. They were all trying to find ways to solve the problem facing the children. The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is the closest to the most suffering under the economic sanctions, but it was destroyed by the attacks, so its work and NGO activities in Iraq have been obliged to stop. Needless to say, the most affected by this hardship are the socially weakest.
According to the former chief librarian of the National Library, a missile which hit it was scribbled by an American soldier, 'Gift for Ramadan'. Attacks in which they do not need to see faces of victims can make them so cruel and insensitive.
Those who believed the attack would be over once Ramadan starts are astonished by explosions even continuing this morning, but, at the same time, are convinced that this is the same as the US did before and the US always attacks during the holy period of Islam.
The Iraqi Vice Prime Minister Tarik Aziz reportedly announced 68 deaths and 180 injured among soldiers alone. They say at least 50, or 68, or more than 100 civilian deaths, but I presume the number is more than 100 for sure. The number of wounded seems to be several thousands.
Further sad news comes to us. 25 Of patients transferred to other hospitals from the Saddam Medical College passed away. Their death was not directly due to bombings. The death toll has been increasing.
Return to Amman (Jordan) from Baghdad
December 22 (Tue)
I departed from Baghdad to come back to Amman.
The people in Iraq recognize that attacks will resume after the fast is over for sure when they heard Clinton say, "our further attack depends on Iraq, although we stop bombing during Ramadan". They say, "no matter what we say or do, or we don't, the US wants to do it".
I have to leave them behind. Even if I am not strong enough, I know I can give much courage to children so long as I stay together with them. But I have to go, leaving them under ruthless attacks. I really cannot help crying.
At the border on the Jordan side
There were very few cars to come into Jordan. On the other hand, great many Iraqi people who had been evacuating to Amman were coming back to their country to stay home during Ramadan.
They were apparently richer than the average Iraqis, judging from their belongings. They were trying to get out of Iraq in the whole family. Some of them were Kurdish and Christians. They unanimously said, "we run away from Iraq because we are afraid of the US attacks. Suddenly bombs are dropped on us. We are really tired of such a situation".
I also met European news reporters. When I asked them about what they had seen, they answered, "only a gynecologic hospital to which our guide took us, and roads in a bombed residential district", and added, "the Iraqi government says they are non-military facilities". It is natural that they take what they saw in Iraq as Iraq's propaganda. Particularly the first and late comers to the country seem to have had only limited access due to their language problem and very few good guides left. If we gather necessary information beforehand, and understand and respect the rules in Iraq, most of our requests are accepted. However, news reporters tend to give priority to 'reporter's spirit to jump into the spot' or their own schedule without respect for the local people, so it is inevitable that their requests are often turned down.
I talked to whoever I met in the downtown about the tragedy in Baghdad by showing them photos I took there. They knew what was going on ub Iraq through the American or British media, such as CNN or BBC.
The people in Jordan were all worried about the neighbours and angry with the arrogance of the US. Moreover, they were very disappointed with their government which has only taken a pro-American stance since the peace agreement. They said, "I feel ashamed of being a Jordanian, because the government unconditionally and shamelessly supported the US attacks". I'm really ashamed as an Arab and a Muslim", "We organized a protest rally, but the number of the participants was much smaller than that of soldiers. The authority was trying to hide the scene of the rally", "We have planned a demonstration to pass in front of the American Embassy, but the government has not permitted it. This country should be ours, but the only thing it is doing is to read the face of the US".
December 23 (Wed)
A Jordanian radio reported in its news programme, "a bomb exploded in Ada Meeya, Baghdad". I can only wish it will not be the unexploded shell near the home of Mr. Al Rifai, the former Iraqi ambassador to Japan.